Mailing List Regulations
Direct mail advertising is regulated by certain laws and rules. As direct mail advertising is unsolicited, it must be done in accordance with the consumer protection laws. One of these is that there must be an opt-out option.
Emails are included in these regulations. All email advertisements are required to have an unsubscribe option, to allow the recipients to “unsubscribe” from the emailing list, thus avoiding more emails. In direct mail, there must be an option on the form somewhere with instructions for being removed from the mailing list.
Mailing lists are developed through different means. Public records such as home purchases, divorce applications, and bankruptcy filings produce lists that are sold for direct mail advertising purposes.
Filing a change of address with the post office leads to the consumer’s name and address being placed on the applicable list. Thus, a new homeowner will likely receive ads for local businesses, hoping to establish a long-term business relationship with the new resident.
The credit bureaus have a lot to do with direct mail advertising. They put together mailing lists that they rent out. For example, they may compile a list that includes all people who make $50,000 or more per year and who have credit card debt under $10,000.
A credit card company would pay to rent this list and send out advertisements for credit cards with “pre-approval” notices, based on the criteria of the mailing list. The credit bureau does not release personal information, but just the name and address of the person and the fact that the person fits the preapproval criteria. Direct mailing lists are thus a powerful means of targeting a specific population.